Indian-origin minister may become first Irish gay PM

Friday 19th May 2017 05:00 EDT
 
 

Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny announced his resignation on May 17, making way for new leadership. Names of two politicians have been put forth, including that of Indo-Irish and current Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar. Son of Mumbai-born physician Ashok Varadkar, Leo is the leader of Ireland's ruling Fine Gael party.

A trained physician, Varadkar was a general practitioner for several years before he took up politics. He came out of his closet in 2015, when Ireland was the first country to legalise same-sex marriage. In his coming-out speech, he said, “It's not something that defines me. I'm not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It's just part of who I am, it doesn't define me, it is part of my character, I suppose.” Varadkar had argued for the deportation of unemployed immigrants and proposed to give them several months' worth of benefits if they left Ireland to return to their home country.

He has already reportedly received support to become the next leader of the country's largest party, from at least five Cabinet Ministers, including Paschal Donohoe. Arts and Rural Affairs Minister Heather Humphreys declared she backed Varadkar to take over as leader of the party. Speaking to the media, she said, “He's decisive, he's courageous, he's hard working, he has all the skills that I believe are necessary not alone to lead the Fine Gael party but also to lead the country.” Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor pledged him her support too. She expects his leadership to be “energetic and inspiring” and described him as someone with “the capacity to make bold decisions and the political courage to tell people what they need, not necessarily just they want to hear.”

Varadkar will be challenged by the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community, and Local Government, Simon Coveney.


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